I'm looking foreward to the Knowle reunion on the 15th June - should be a busy, interesting day, meeting up with people I worked and lived with nearly 40 years ago. Yes, it's 40 years since I started my training as a psychiatric nurse and 27 years since I last worked at Knowle. Most of my childhood revolved around Knowle - my parents both worked there from the 1950s until the early 1980s and we lived on the staff estate from 1967 onwards. I left the estate when I married in 1969 and moved to Gosport, only to return to live in the female nurses' hostel in my first year of training in 1973.
Caught in the Web is set in a mental hospital very similar to Knowle, with scenes in Gosport and Fareham. It's set in 1973 so you can see where I get my inspiration from! I'm hoping that I'll be able to sell a few more copies at the reunion.
The following weekend is Winchester Writers' Conference and I will be selling copies of my novel there on Friday and Saturday of 21st and 22nd June. Hopefully this will be a good opportunity to meet people and showcase my work to a larger audience.
Caught in the Web is available in paperback from Amazon and many other online bookstores. You can purchase it in any good bookshop although you may have to order it. It's available locally in Waterstones Portsmouth and Fareham, Blackwells in Portsmouth, The Book Shop in Lee-on-Solent, The One Tree Bookshop in Petersfield, The Hayling Island Bookshop, The Fareham Museum at Westbury Manor and Artys Bar in Knowle Village. Also available from Kindle - now at reduced price of £1.99 or $2.99.
If you've already read the novel I'd appreciated a review on Amazon - reviews really do help to sell novels.
For those of you who are reading the novel on this blog, here is the next chapter...
She must have slept. It was dark and the curtains were closed.
She struggled to sit up but her body was heavy, reminding her of the days after her operation. Confused, she tried mentally to check her body - wondering what had happened to her. Gradually the memory of Dr. Wright’s visit began to slip back into her consciousness. A heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach grew into something like fear as she remembered the things that Peter had told him. Peter’s lies had sounded so reasonable to the doctor. The more she’d protested, the less he believed her. She felt the web of Peter’s lies tightening about her. She reached across and turned on the light, dreading what would happen next.
The door opened. Fear shot through her. But it was Margaret, not Peter, who came into the room, a worried look on her face.
‘Oh, good, you’re awake,’ she said. ‘Have you had a good rest?’
‘I’m fine,’ Karen said. ‘What are you doing here? How long have I been asleep?’
‘Most of the day, I think.’ Margaret sat on the bed and reached for Karen’s hand. ‘You’ve had a bad time of it. I’m just keeping an eye on you.’
‘I told you, I’m fine.’ Karen pulled her hand away and tried to sit up again. ‘I don’t know why I’m so drowsy.’
‘The doctor gave you some sedatives,’ Margaret reminded her. ‘You needed rest, so you’ve had some tablets.’
‘But I don’t remember taking any. The last thing I remember is Peter going to the shops this morning, and I hadn’t had any tablets then.’
‘Don’t you remember having lunch?’ Margaret smiled. ‘You came down for lunch. Peter told me.’
‘No, I don’t. I remember the doctor and the things Peter was saying to him. He told a load of lies to the doctor. I didn’t want any tranquillisers. I told him. I’ve got the baby to think about. I can’t take drugs and I don’t need to be sedated. Why can’t I make anyone believe me?’ she wailed.
‘Now don’t get yourself all upset again,’ Margaret soothed. She took the young woman in her arms and stroked her hair. Karen allowed herself to relax in Margaret’s embrace.
‘I feel so helpless,’ Karen said. ‘Everyone listens to Peter, but I don’t seem to have a voice.’
‘What do you want?’ Margaret asked. ‘Is there anything I can do?’
‘Just believe me when I say I’m alright, that’s all.’
‘I want to,’ Margaret sighed. ‘I expect you just need to rest.’ She stood up. ‘Now then, let’s get you something to eat. Are you hungry?’
‘A bit.’ Karen suddenly realised that Peter hadn’t appeared as she’d expected. ‘Where is Peter?’ she asked.
‘He just had to go out for a bit. I said I’d keep an eye on you.’
‘Thanks Margaret, but I don’t need looking after. I don’t know why he’s making me out to be an invalid.’ She struggled to the edge of the bed and managed to sit up. ‘Listen Margaret,’ she went on. ‘I think he’s given me the tablets without me knowing. I don’t need them.’ She lowered her voice. ‘You’ve got to believe me.’
‘I know you don’t want to admit that you’re ill.’ Margaret looked uncomfortable. ‘But a few good nights sleep can’t do you any harm, can it?’
‘I’m not ill! Taking those tablets will make me worse. Please.’ She was begging now, and could hear the desperation in her own voice.
‘I’ll talk to him,’ Margaret said. ‘But you just try and rest some more. You need to take care of yourself.’ She was at the door. ‘I’ll go and open a tin of soup. Tomato OK?’
Karen slumped back onto the pillows, knowing that she hardly had the strength to get up onto her feet. She tried to remember when she could have been given the sedatives. She could recall nothing that had happened since the doctor had left. She remembered Peter calling up the stairs saying he was going to the shops and that was all. But she was convinced that Peter had got her to take the drugs somehow.
She was frightened but determined to take back control. She would have to keep her wits about her. She’d just have to wait until the next morning to make her move. By then, the sedatives would have worn off and she could make her escape. She had no idea where she would go, only that she needed to get away. But first she had to get through the night and somehow make sure that Peter couldn’t trick her into taking any more of those pills.
The quiet knock at the door a short while later was Margaret carrying a tray of soup and bread and butter.
‘Here you are my dear.’ She set the tray down on Karen’s lap. ‘Try and eat some of this - you’ll soon feel stronger.’
Margaret stood by the window, looking out.
Karen took a spoonful of soup. She hesitated as the spoon reached her mouth. Margaret turned.
‘It’s alright - I haven’t poisoned it!’
‘I’m not paranoid,’ Karen said quietly and swallowed a mouthful of soup.
‘Margaret - can you bring my tablets up here please,’ Karen said. ‘They are my tablets,’ she added.
Margaret returned after several minutes.
‘Peter must have put them away somewhere. I can’t find them,’ she said.
‘Oh. And why would he do that?’
‘Now you do sound paranoid.’
‘Perhaps I do,’ Karen whispered to herself. She ate the soup in silence.